• Top 10 Best Language Apps for Travel in 2020 (HelloTalk, Google Translation, and More) 1
  • Top 10 Best Language Apps for Travel in 2020 (HelloTalk, Google Translation, and More) 2
  • Top 10 Best Language Apps for Travel in 2020 (HelloTalk, Google Translation, and More) 3
  • Top 10 Best Language Apps for Travel in 2020 (HelloTalk, Google Translation, and More) 4
  • Top 10 Best Language Apps for Travel in 2020 (HelloTalk, Google Translation, and More) 5

Top 10 Best Language Apps for Travel in 2020 (HelloTalk, Google Translation, and More)

One of the hardest parts about traveling is the language barrier. As English speakers, we’re incredibly lucky that so many people around the world can communicate with us, but we can’t assume that knowing English will be enough. Luckily, there are a bunch of smartphone apps that make bridging the language gap a little bit easier.

Picking the right one, however, isn’t quite so easy. Different apps cater to different needs, and if you don’t know what to look for, you could end up trying a dozen before finding the right one. In this guide, we’ll go over the factors you should consider when choosing the app for you. We’ve also got a list of our favorites, including our number one, TripLingo.
  • Last updated: 11-19-2020
  • 533 views
Table of Contents

Top 10 Best Language Apps for Travel

Now that you know what to look for, here are a few of our favorites. Some of these combine two or more different types and make useful all-in-one resources.
1
Languages42
TypeTranslation, phrases, learning
Photo ReaderYes
Offline AvailabilityYes, limited functionality
2
LanguagesSpanish, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Polish, English, Indonesian, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian
TypeLearning
Photo ReaderNo
Offline AvailabilityNo
3
Languages103
TypeTranslation
Photo ReaderYes
Offline AvailabilityYes, for 59 languages
4
Languages60+
TypeTranslation, phrasebook
Photo ReaderYes
Offline AvailabilityYes
5
Languages90+
TypeTranslation
Photo ReaderNo
Offline AvailabilityNo
6
LanguagesSpanish, German, French, Italian, English, Russia, Chinese, Japanese, Turkish, Brazilian Portuguese, Arabic, and Polish
TypeLearning
Photo ReaderNo
Offline AvailabilityYes
7
Languages100+
TypeTranslation, phrasebook
Photo ReaderYes, with subscription
Offline AvailabilityYes, with subscription
8

Apalon AppsSpeak & Translate

$0.00

Languages117 (text), 54 (speech)
TypeTranslation
Photo ReaderNo
Offline AvailabilityYes, for 10 languages with subscription
9
Languages150+
TypeLearning
Photo ReaderNo
Offline AvailabilityNo
10
LanguagesMandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean
TypeTranslation
Photo ReaderYes
Offline AvailabilityYes

Compare the Best Language Apps for Travel

Image
1
TripLingo, LLC TripLingo 1

TripLingo, LLC

2
Lesson Nine GmbH Babbel 1

Lesson Nine GmbH

3
Google LLC Google Translate 1

Google LLC

4
Microsoft Corporation Microsoft Translator 1

Microsoft Corporation

5
SayHi SayHi Translate 1

SayHi

6
Busuu Limited Busuu 1

Busuu Limited

7
iTranslate iTranslate Translator 1

iTranslate

8
Apalon Apps Speak & Translate 1

Apalon Apps

9
HelloTalk Learn Languages App HelloTalk 1

HelloTalk Learn Languages App

10
Translate Abroad Waygo 1

Translate Abroad

Name

TripLingo

Babbel

Google Translate

Microsoft Translator

SayHi Translate

Busuu

iTranslate Translator

Speak & Translate

HelloTalk

Waygo

Features

All-in-One Travel and Language Assistant

Conversation-First Learning App for Your Trip to Europe

Accurate and Multi-Input Translator from Google

A Conversation-Focused Translation App

Simple Speech-Focused Translation

For Effective, Long-Term Language Learning

Quick, On-the-Go Voice and Text Translations and a Sleek Design

Instant Speech and Text Translator

Language Exchange With Powerful Learning Tools

Accurately Translates Chinese Text With Photos

Price$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00
Languages42Spanish, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Polish, English, Indonesian, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian10360+90+Spanish, German, French, Italian, English, Russia, Chinese, Japanese, Turkish, Brazilian Portuguese, Arabic, and Polish100+117 (text), 54 (speech)150+Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean
TypeTranslation, phrases, learningLearningTranslationTranslation, phrasebookTranslationLearningTranslation, phrasebookTranslationLearningTranslation
Photo ReaderYesNoYesYesNoNoYes, with subscriptionNoNoYes
Offline AvailabilityYes, limited functionalityNoYes, for 59 languagesYesNoYesYes, with subscriptionYes, for 10 languages with subscriptionNoYes
Link

How to Choose a Language App for Travel – Buying Guide

When choosing an app, don’t forget that having a ton of extra features doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice for you. Always consider what you need first.

Ensure Your Target Language Is Supported

Ensure Your Target Language Is Supported
This should go without saying, but the first thing you should do is check to see if the app you want to use supports the language of the country you’re visiting. That being said, it might be good to double-check exactly what the country’s main language is and also the language of the specific region you’re visiting.
Remember, Brazil speaks Portuguese and not Spanish, and even though Mandarin is used throughout China, in different places you might find that you need to use other dialects like Cantonese or Hokkien.

Pick a Type Based on Your Situation, Confidence, and Time to Prepare

There are three main types of language apps for travel: translation, phrasebook, and learning apps. Which one will be best for you depends largely on your travel style, so think realistically about the situations you might be in.

Translation Apps Are the Fastest and Most Convenient

Translation Apps Are the Fastest and Most Convenient
For on-the-go translation that doesn’t require a lot of know-how, translation apps are your best bet. They allow you to easily move between two languages without any real prior knowledge. Some translation apps work with written input where you type in one language and it’ll come out in another.
Others can also handle spoken input, which will allow you to translate conversations in almost real-time. Translation apps are great not just for your typical travel phrases but also for situations that might come up involving speech that other travel-related language apps aren’t prepared for.
Just note that if you have an app that produces written output but the literacy rate in the country you’re visiting is low, you might still need to read it aloud to the other person. So if it’s an alphabet that you’re not familiar with, be sure that the app also provides you with a transliteration that you can read.

Phrasebook Apps Give You the Need-to-Knows and Make You Look Like You’re Trying

Phrasebook Apps Give You the Need-to-Knows and Make You Look Like You’re Trying
Like the travel phrasebooks of old, phrasebook apps provide you with a number of words, phrases, and sentences that you’re likely to use when traveling. 

Phrase apps are great if you’ll only need a fairly limited vocabulary and want to try your hand at speaking the local language. In many places, locals are thrilled to hear tourists trying, even if it’s just “thank you” or “where is the restroom?”

For the best phrase app possible, look for one that splits phrases into categories or has a search function so that you can quickly and easily find what you’re looking for. It’s also really helpful if the app has audio so that you know how the phrases are pronounced.

Learning Apps Take Some Time but Help You Talk With Locals

Learning Apps Take Some Time but Help You Talk With Locals
If you’re intent on making friends and communicating with the local community, it’s best to learn a little more about the language and grammar aside from just direct translations and travel words.
Naturally, this can take several weeks or months of preparation, but it can be worth it if you’ll be visiting for more than a couple weeks or traveling solo. Just be sure that the app that you choose is practical and focuses on speaking.

Look for Apps That Use Photo Readers or AR for Writing

Look for Apps That Use Photo Readers or AR for Writing
If you’re visiting a country that uses the same alphabet English does, it’s easy enough to do a quick search for unfamiliar words. But if the alphabet is completely different, and you have no idea how to even pronounce the word, let alone type it, it really helps to have an app that can translate without that extra step.
Luckily, there are several apps that allow you to either take a picture of the writing or just hold your phone up to it, and it’ll tell you what it means. One of the places that you’ll likely need this the most is restaurants, but it’s important to note that food translations often don’t make sense and may not tell you exactly what’s in the dish.
So if you have allergies or restrictions, it’s always best to ask directly (via a translation app or predetermined phrase).

If You Don’t Have Data, Offline Availability Is Critical

If You Don’t Have Data, Offline Availability Is Critical
Depending on whether you’ve decided to pay for international roaming or rent a portable wifi router or foreign SIM card, you may or may not have reliable data throughout your trip. Even if you have, there will still likely be times where coverage is spotty.
If you want to be able to communicate (relatively) effectively even without internet, it’s important that the app you’re using has offline availability that allows you to download everything you need ahead of time.

Other Useful Apps for Your Phone

Other Useful Apps for Your Phone

Your phone can store a wealth of information, and there are constantly new apps being made to make life easier and more interesting. Of course, since there are so many, it can be hard to decide, though. If you're looking for new useful apps for your phone, then take a look at some of our other buying guides below!

Summary

In the end, the best app is one that you’ll actually use. So explore any free trials thoroughly and think about the situations you might be in before making a commitment to a subscription.

Author: Jacqueline Oshiro


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